I spoke at West Haven High School today. It was a class of meteorology students. I went as a favor to someone who’d been nice to me.
West Haven High gets a bad rap. I can’t tell you whether that’s deserved or not, but I can safely say I saw no evidence of anything remotely seeming problematic today. It is a school in a town with many working poor. The class I was in was fairly evenly divided black and white with a few Hispanics students.
I walked in fully expecting a metal detector on my way in. None. There was a non-uniformed adult on a raised kiosk watching the door and the hallway. Kids were walking around between periods as high school kids do. The vibe was nice.
The class I spoke at was a meteorology science course. I’m not sure how deep they can get in high school, but they were attentive as I delivered my presentation. That’s more than half the battle–having students pay attention. I don’t know how teachers do it day-after-day without becoming numbed to it all.
As I began I realized none of them were alive when Hurricane Gloria, a crucial first element in my talk, struck the Connecticut shoreline in 1985. Gloria is now ancient history.
I’d included my “Hippie Geoff” photo as an ice breaker. Nothing. No reaction. I was surprised and, at that moment worried about how things would progress.
As I went through my presentation I looked up to see them looking back. That connection is what I hope for. It’s my sign of success. You have no idea how many schools I’ve been to where that back-and-forth response was missing. That’s sad.
The session ended with a round of questions–some pretty good ones. I left happy.
Without sounding too sappy, I really did get a lot out of today–possibly more than the students got.